Hear inside perspective, expert advice and the thoughts of Aquarian’s Premier Drummer and Founder

Roy Burns is one of the very few drummers whose career has encompassed virtually every aspect of drumming and the music business. He has been a big band drummer, teacher, author, clinician, featured soloist, studio drummer, publisher, percussion equipment innovator and in 1980, became one of the founding owners of Aquarian Drumheads. In 2014, NAMM recognized his vast contributions to the music industry by presenting him with a LIFETIME “Believe in Music” ACHIEVEMENT AWARD. His love for drums and the drummer has created a company with a culture that continues to put the needs of the drumming customer first.

Roy Burns with Benny Goodman in Blokker, The Netherlands, 1958

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Roy Burns at the 1975
Monterey Jazz Festival

Roy Burns with Benny Goodman from “Swing Into Spring” TV special

“Don’t Be That Way” Benny Goodman Live in Brussels

“Sing Sing Sing” Benny Goodman Live in Brussels

“Dill Pickles” off Big, Bad & Beautiful

“Mr. Blue” off Big, Bad & Beautiful

“Trilogy For Roy” off Big, Bad & Beautiful

“Take Me Out The Ballgame” off Skin Burns

“Wave” Bob Myers Solo album recorded in Hawaii

Bob Myers Solo album recorded in Hawaii

“Manhattan Spiritual” Sy Zentner

“Move” Roy Burns Quintet

“Use Me” Roy Burns and Phil Upchurch live at the “Backroom” in Chicago, 1973

Roy Burns (b. November 30, 1935) started his career as famous as a big band drummer in his early twenties performing with the legendary Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, and Woody Herman. In the sixties he concentrated on studio work and freelancing in the New York area. He played a number of top TV shows such as the Merv Griffin Show and the Tonight Show as well as TV and radio commercials. Roy also led his own jazz group and performed regularly at clubs such as The Metrepole and Birdland in New York.

During this time Roy was in demand as a teacher. It was from his teaching that Roy was inspired to write a number of drum instruction books, several of which are considered “classics” to this day, including “Finger Control”, “Elementary Drum Method”, “Advanced Rock Drumming”, “New Orleans Drumming” and “One Surface Learning”.

Roy was one of the very first Artist-Clinician Performers in the music industry. His background as a drummer, teacher, author and studio musician made him an ideal teacher/performer. In many instances, a Roy Burns drum clinic was the first one attended by young drummers in the U.S. and internationally. Roy was the first American drummer to present clinics in a number of countries such as, Australia, Ireland, Hong Kong, Denmark and others. Roy literally set the standard for today’s drum clinicians. Thousands of drummers read his “Concepts” column in Modern Drummer Magazine. It was one of the most successful columns in the history of the magazine and ran an unprecedented 12 years.

During the 70’s Roy was also the house drummer for the Monterey Jazz Festival and backed some of the greatest names in jazz and blues. In 1980, along with two close friends, Roy formed Aquarian. In 1987 Aquarian began to make drumheads and the rest, as they say, is history.

Aquarian experienced tremendous growth in a relatively short time because of innovative ideas and unique products of superior quality. As Roy says, “In everything we do, we keep the drummer in mind. We focus on helping the drummer attain a musical sound and achieve a better performance.”

Introduction by Roy

Early in 1977, I was getting ready to do a clinic in New Jersey. A young man approached me while I was adjusting the drumset and introduced himself. He said, “Hi, I’m from a new magazine called Modern Drummer. Could I take some photos and perhaps get an interview afterwards?” I said, “Sure, why not?” After the clinic we did the interview and I was later surprised to see myself on the cover on MD’s second issue. I’ve been involved with Modern Drummer to one degree or another ever since.

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